Rugby and league international, car wash entrepreneur and celebrity Matthew Ridge became – alongside fellow sportsman Marc Ellis – one of the twin onscreen towers of 90s and 2000s lad culture in New Zealand. The larrikin pair went adventuring in Aotearoa and overseas (Fresh Up In the Deep End, a run of Matthew and Marc’s Rocky Road series) and were panel captains on sports quiz show Game of Two Halves. Solo, Ridge was chosen to host the original version of high profile game show The Chair. He has also been a regular participant in a run of celebrity reality shows (Treasure Island, Top of the Class).
We wanted to create a programme that would unite Matthew Ridge and Marc Ellis again and allow them to continue the good-humoured competitive rivalry they've built up... Producer Julie Christie on show Game of Two Halves, The NZ Herald, 2000
Reality series The Ridges follows the lives of socialite and interior designer Sally Ridge and her daughter Jaime. Sally and 19-year-old Jaime face the challenge of moving into and renovating a rundown 13 bedroom Auckland villa. Meanwhile Jaime trains hard for a charity boxing match with another reality TV personality, Rosanna Arkle from The GC. The six-part series ran on TV3 for one season. The first episode features the much remembered moment where Sally and Jaime encountered a mouse. Jaime was the only one of her three siblings to feature in the show.
Former All Blacks Matthew Ridge and Marc Ellis team up once again to export their brand of larrikin-like behaviour overseas. In this first episode of their Russian travels they find themselves in the capital of Moscow, where they compete to get smiles out of locals, and head to a space agency building to see if they have the physical ability (and appropriate payment for the guards) to head out into the cosmos. Ridge is informed of a kidney problem, and Ellis gets told he has a dickey heart; but neither diagnosis is enough to prevent the pair testing their limits on the centrifuge.
Tattoo artist Jake Sawyer (Jason Behr, American star of Roswell) travels the world looking for ethnic designs to exploit for his art. At a tattoo expo in Singapore, he is introduced to the traditional Samoan tattoo, and falls for Sina (No. 2's Mia Blake) the beautiful cousin of tattooist Alipati. When Jake recklessly steals a Samoan tattooing tool, he unwittingly unleashes a powerful spirit that endangers everyone he touches. This inaugural Kiwi-Singaporean co-production was directed by Peter Burger and produced by Robin Scholes (Once Were Warriors).
Director Chris Graham delivers five minutes of cars, comedy and eye candy in this slick who's who of the 2003 Kiwi scene. Featuring DJ Sir-Vere, VJ Jane Yee, ex sports star Matthew Ridge and Paul Holmes (well actually he was a no show — but his understudy made an appearance), the clip succeeded in planting a relatively unknown hip hop artist squarely on the front page. The result was the biggest selling Kiwi single of the year (it went platinum, and spent five weeks at number one). Named Best Video at the 2005 NZ Music Awards, it cost at least $50,000 to make.
The concept behind this game show is that contenders can't hide their nerves. They're wired up to a heart-rate monitor and given a "redline rate" that is 70% above their resting heart rate. If their heartrate goes over the line the contestant starts losing money and can't answer questions until their heart slows down again. Hosted by ex-rugby and league player Matthew Ridge, The Chair was a big-budget, big-event format that was made first in New Zealand and proved a significant export success for Touchdown (now Warner Bros.) selling to 29 territories.
Fresh-up in the Deep End saw sportsmen turned TV larrikins Marc Ellis and Matthew Ridge facing challenges far outside their comfort zones. This episode has the pair taking on dancing, from ballroom and latin styles, through to cabaret, contemporary and Irish. En route they try some body percussion with Black Grace Dance Company, and do the can-can under the watchful eye of cabaret legend Debbie Dorday. Then they must put their new found skills to the test in full on competition. Ridge and Ellis' skills with a rugby ball in hand don't always translate onto the dancefloor.
Onetime All Blacks Marc Ellis and Matthew Ridge cemented their on screen partnership with late 90s show Fresh-up in the Deep End. The Touchdown series saw the pair taking their lovable, duelling larrakin personas to a variety of locations: they did time in the armed services, the circus, flash restaurant Petit Lyon, and as butler and chauffeur to model Rachel Hunter. They also launched their own political party, did the Coast to Coast, and tried a variety of dance moves. Fresh-up in the Deep End ran for two seasons.
Treasure Island was an early local example of a reality show staple — contestants endured the great outdoors, and each other. Over nine seasons the series went through multiple variations, including a Couples at War season, and another featuring favourites from the past. During the 2004 season of Celebrity Treasure Island, contestant Lana Coc-Kroft was airlifted from Fiji, after she cut her foot on coral and got a life-threatening blood-poisoning disease. On 2002's Treasure Island: Extreme, Barrie Rice — an ex SAS soldier — dealt with being eliminated by hiding in the jungle.
The third of Pasta Productions’ popular All Blacks documentaries sees winger John Kirwan provide running commentary on the team’s path to the 1991 World Cup in England: from Argentina to Sydney and Auckland to contest the Bledisloe; from facing bottle and orange missiles in Tucumán to touch on Bondi Beach. JK muses on why coach Alex Wyllie is nicknamed ‘Grizz’, Neil and Tim Finn provide musical accompaniment (“I see black”), and Canterbury Uglies are the training uniform du jour. Meanwhile on-field signs are ominous for the reigning world champs.
Presented by John Kirwan, this film looks at the 1990 decision of Kirwan's young All Black teammate Matthew Ridge to ‘defect’ from rugby, to play professional league for the Manly Sea Eagles. Ridge had been the uncapped understudy to 1989 World Player of the Year John Gallagher. Ironically Gallagher converted to league shortly after Ridge, news that Ridge receives while preparing for his league debut. Ridge went on to captain the Kiwis. His code shift began a trend that transformed union and league in NZ; union turned pro in 1995. Ric (Sports Cafe) Salizzo directs.
The follow up to 1989 tour doco The Good, the Bad and the Rugby sees winger John Kirwan narrate an insider’s guide to the All Blacks’ 1990 tour to France: from Michael Jones negotiating a haircut (“how do you say ‘square top’ in French?”) to 19-year-old Simon Mannix leading a ‘Ten Guitars’ singalong. Footy relics of the era include afternoon test matches, four point tries, placed kick-offs, sneaky ciggies and Steinlager. Producer Ric Salizzo later repeated the Pasta Productions’ recipe — sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls — in the successful Sports Cafe series.
This documentary follows the then world champion All Blacks on a 1989 tour of Wales and Ireland. With star winger John Kirwan as guide, 'The All Black Film Unit' gives a players’ insight into an international tour in pre-professional, pre-media trained times — there’s even a plate of oranges. Match, training, and travel footage is complemented by relaxed encounters with players (Zinzan Brooke mounting a shetland pony has entered rugby folklore). Producer Ric Salizzo repeated the recipe — sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls — in the successful Sports Cafe series.